The Art Masking Fluid had a funky, stinky smell that wafted through the studio when I unscrewed the top. What was worse, when I brushed the chunky fluid on my illustration board it YELLOWED the paper! Aaack! It’s been a while since I used the masking fluid on an illustration project and even longer since I’ve purchased any new illustration board. Things have changed. The price on my old, stinky bottle of fluid says $6.09 and the new bottle I picked up at the same art store this weekend cost me $13.89. My favorite illustration board, peelable LetraMax 2200 is no longer carried and I had to buy several other sheets to “experiment” on. I’m picky about my materials, process and tools to achieve a certain look when doing illustration work. I’m fussy because I’m out of practice –way out of practice. The stinky, fermented, yellowed masking fluid said it all! Setting frustrations aside, I’m happy to have been commissioned to create some happy and whimsical illustrations based on my Children’s Alphabet Book illustrations. The sales girl at Blaine’s Art Supply was super patient with me –even letting me thumb through and finger every type of paper and illustration board they had in stock. She quietly listened to me grumble about the way I like the paper to have enough “tooth” to grab the inks (I use 25 year old Windsor and Newton Watercolour Inks) yet float long enough to suspend my stokes until I have a chance to blend and complete them. The paper or board needed to be bright enough to reflect and promote the colors and not suck them into the board like a cheap sponge or pill with too many brush strokes. I know, a bit over the top –but guess what? Even though I was reluctant and skeptical to try some new paper the sales professional recommend, she picked out the PERFECT substitute for the old illustration board! Beautiful, Strathmore Bristol Water Colour Paper that is working swimmingly –similarly to the old 2200 board I’d gotten used to and even better. The new fluid is fun (and clean) and I’m working out all the kinks as I try and remember the general tips and tricks for water color rules of application to achieve a successful finished design. I’m going to blame my pickiness on my inner Virgo, but me needing to now use my reading glasses to do illustration work is just another reminder of how long it’s been since I’ve painted!